Pope Francis Speaks To Belgian Brothers of Charity
In August 2016, Pope Francis issued an order to the Belgian Brothers of Charity ordering them to stop offering euthanasia services to terminally ill patients in their facilities. The Broeders van Liefde group has recently defied the Pope’s orders.
On September 12th, they issued a statement saying they will continue to offer euthanasia services, claiming “it is in keeping with the Catholic Church’s doctrine.”
Belgian Brothers of Charity was founded in 1807 by Father Peter Joseph Triest. It is composed of lay members and a few brothers heading the group. They have fifteen psychiatric hospitals in Belgium with over five thousand patients.
In their statement, they argue that they “emphatically believe” they are doing what is right by offering the services to mental “non-terminally ill” patients. This statement has evoked criticism from the Catholic community with some saying, “the claim is utterly outrageous.”
Brother Reck Stockmann, the direct superior to the group, did not share this view. In Spring 2017, he traveled to the Vatican to request help from the Pope on this matter.
In article 2277 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.” This is consistent with the Christian belief that life in all forms is sacred and taking life would disregard the authority of God by breaking his command.
The failure of the Belgian Brothers of Charity to obey this command is said to attract consequences. The Brothers in the board face dismissal from the Institute. The organization is also at risk of being stripped of their Catholic identity.
Despite the consequences to be upheld and criticism from the Catholic community, the Broeders van Liefde will continue offering Euthanasia services in their facilities.